Aircel-Maxis: SC gives 3 months to CBI to end probe

Aircel-Maxis: SC gives 3 months to CBI to end probe

Karti Chidambaram. PTI file photo

The Supreme Court on Thursday extended by three months the deadline given to CBI and ED to complete their probe into the alleged irregularities in grant of FIPB approval to the Aircel-Maxis deal, in which former finance minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram have been questioned by the agencies.

The top court had on March 12 given a deadline till September 12 to the CBI, ED and other agencies to complete the probe in the case.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan today said that the investigating agencies are directed to complete the probe in three months.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED and CBI, said the agencies needed 2-3 months more to complete the probe as they needed to confront some accused through e-mails.

The bench adjourned the matter for further hearing after three months.

On March 12, the apex court had set a deadline of six months for ED to complete the probe into the alleged irregularities in FIPB approval to the Aircel-Maxis deal. The issue had surfaced during the probe into the 2G spectrum allocation related cases.

The court had observed that investigation has been going on for a long time and people of the country cannot be kept in the dark on a sensitive matter like this.

Earlier, the Centre had told the court that in the main 2G spectrum case involving former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, the special court had acquitted all the accused. Similarly, in other related cases, the accused were either acquitted or discharged.

It had said that investigation was still pending only in one case relating to the Aircel-Maxis deal and involves Malaysian business tycoon T Ananda Krishnan against whom letter rogatory has been issued.

P Chidambaram was questioned by the CBI in the case on December 6, 2014, while Karti was questioned on November 19, 2014.

On July 19, the CBI had filed a supplementary charge sheet before a special court against the Congress leader and his son for alleged irregularities and criminal conspiracy in the Aircel-Maxis deal case. Besides them, the CBI had also named 10 individuals, including public servants, and six companies as accused in the case.

The agency has alleged that when foreign investment in Aircel by Malaysian telecom major Maxis was cleared by the finance ministry in March 13, 2006, a payment of Rs 26 lakh was made by Aircel to Chennai-based Advantage Strategic Consulting, officials said.

It had alleged that Advantage Strategic Consulting was indirectly controlled by Karti and had raised an invoice on March 29, 2006 against which Aircel made a payment on April 1, 2006.

The ED had in its chargesheet said that Karti controlled two firms which allegedly received Rs 1.16 crore as bribe money in the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case.

Though the name of P Chidambaram, who was also quizzed recently by the CBI and the ED in the INX media and the Aircel-Maxis money laundering cases respectively, was mentioned in the charge sheet, but the Congress veteran was not arrayed as an accused in the probe report.

However, the CBI and ED main cases in the Aircel-Maxis deal could not withhold judicial scrutiny as the special 2G court had in February last year discharged former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his industrialist brother Kalanithi Maran and others, saying the alleged charges were based on "misreading of official files", speculation and surmises of the complainant.

Though the court has discharged Marans and others in the case, a further probe by CBI regarding FIPB approval is still going on. Similarly, the ED is carrying out a separate probe in the Aircel-Maxis deal. 

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